By Ani Souberlich, Vicky Ramírez Jou, Sonia Zaracho, Marité and Ramón Marini, José Argüello, Fr. José Pontes, Andreza Ortigoza, Mima Cardona, María Emilia Vidal, Maria Fischer, Fr. Antonio Cosp and 50,000 pilgrims •
“How the world’s largest 18 October was experienced in Tupãrenda, Paraguay,” is the title of a Facebook post, while, Fr. Antonio Cosp thanked all the collaborators for their contribution to the “celebration of celebrations in Tuparenda.” The songs along with Bishop Francisco Pistilli and Fr. Pedro Kühlcke, Bishop Joaquín Robledo, Bishop of San Lorenzo (bilingual) and Fr. Antonio Cosp’s homilies still resound a week later. (The homilies were a topic in the Última Hora newspaper). The colors of the dances and the thousands of Pilgrim Mothers’ decorations still shine; the most touching moments still beat in people’s hearts – Bishop Francisco Pistilli blessing the bells, Fr. Antonio Cosp blessing the tympanum pictures, or the balloon rosary’s flight, drifting through Tupãrenda’s sky.
“I don’t care where the first covenant of love was sealed; my Shrine of 18 October is Tupãrenda”
Radio María Paraguay transmitted the 9:00 a.m., 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Masses, and after the morning Eucharist, it conducted interviews. For a few minutes, they interrupted Fr. Antonio Cosp, who was confessing penitents. He mentioned: the commitment of the teams that prepared this day and were at the service of this event; 40,000 or more pilgrims who came from every corner of the country; the covenant of love, the Shrine and the characteristics of the Schoenstatt Movement in Paraguay in its strong lay and masculine traits, “that is perhaps different from the majority of other countries’ Schoenstatt Families ” and that permits it to complement the International Movement. Fr. Antonio explained the three graces of the Shrine: to receive Mary’s embrace, to obtain “Mary’s joy, and Mary’s positive gaze, and of becoming her missionary child.” He shared his joy about the presence of a large number of youths, and he blessed the excited reporter from Radio María…
They also interviewed a girl from the Girls’ Youth. She emotionally related about last year when she experienced 18 October during the Schoenstatt Jubilee at the Original Shrine at Germany. Yes, it was very beautiful. They asked her what impressed her the most last year. “How much I missed 18 October in Tupãrenda!” she responded and almost crying she avowed: “I don’t care where the first covenant of love was sealed, my 18 October Shrine is Tupãrenda, I am so happy, so very happy to be here again, I never want to be at any other place on a 18 October.”
It is not magic…it is service
What is the mystery of 18 October in Tupãrenda? Grace, many graces, this is the first and definite reason. Certainly, it is also the many contributions to the capital of grace. But it is not magic. Behind the scenes, there is an enormous amount of work, there is professionalism and efficiency, and above all, it is the wonderful attitude of service within all the teams.
“On 18 October, we experience the most beautiful thing…something wonderful: when you give your heart, the soul trembles with spiritual joy,” a Pastoral Team member, who was happy to belong to the “Tupãrenda Liturgy, commented. “We prepared with effort, taking care of every detail many months before, so that every pilgrim would feel happy at Mother Mary’s home. We saw tears, smiles and great joy. Today the Liturgy Team members of the Tupãrenda National Shrine can say, mission accomplished! Thank you to each of my brothers/sisters in covenant for the unconditional support.”
On 19 October, Fr. Antonio Cosp wrote to those who participated in the organization of 18 October:
“I am immensely grateful for the leadership of your respective teams, and I ask that you transmit my gratitude to them as soon as possible. I already received a cordial challenge for having named some of you at the beginning of the 8:00 p.m. Mass. Behind you – or sometimes in front of you – there were many collaborators whose shirts were soaked with perspiration (it was a good thing that the weather was ideal, like never before). I was very happy to see new and young people on the teams. It is one of the Paraguayan Schoenstatt secrets: we give much, but then without tiring, we seek another task. The change of tasks does us good. Special thanks to my brothers of the Asunción filial, who were very much present and active. Perhaps, for the first time, we could hear all the confessions. It was touching to see the photo and the front-page report in Última Hora. I suppose that something else will appear in the media. Radio María was installed and gave its all at Tupãrenda.”
To touch grace with the hands
Ani Souberlich, from the schoenstatt.org team, almost depleted the her cell phone battery because, she sent one photo after another from early in the morning. When she arrived at Tupãrenda, there was still just a few people, everyone was waiting for the pilgrims.
She summarizes her experience:
“A special thank you to the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary for being present, and through their quiet service, they transmitted the presence of the Blessed Mother to us. To the Schoenstatt Fathers and other priests who were at the service of the pilgrims at every moment for confession. Greetings and a well done to the seminarians that nourish our hope in continuing to extend the Nation of God with their youth and joy. To the Coro Voces Del Alma [Voice of the Soul Choir], to the many servants who clothed in yellow vests were easily spotted so that we could always find them for help! Thanks to María Fischer, from Germany – through sch.org – that kept us in direct communication with the whole world and for being present here with her heart to “speed up in sending photos”…And thanks to the many pilgrims who arrived from every corner of the country and beyond, who through their presence made Tupãrenda a true family celebration, I believe that upon arriving home each one could say: Today I touched grace with my hands! May this be the feeling that accompanies us throughout this year until we meet again at the feet of our Mother and Queen next 18 October!
Heaven and earth
Claudia Michita Barrios: “Today we saw the Blessed Mother’s new church, Santa María de la Trinidad [Holy Mary of the Trinity]. It is a dream of many years. My parents collaborated to give it life by placing bricks in a special ceremony. Today, from heaven, they must see us return for them and with them to renew the covenant of love…”
Mima Cordona, from the Rosary Campaign: “Our celebration of 18-10-15 was wonderful, thousands of pilgrims and missionaries arrived in Tupãrenda. The first group was the missionaries from Encarnación [Incarnation] that arrived at 4:30 a.m. The flag bearers who accompanied the procession during the first Mass were all missionaries from the different parts of the country…”
Bishop Francisco Pistilli celebrated Holy Mass
“Today, at the first Mass, the number of people and Bishop Pistilli’s homily were impressive: it was a treat. This year I had the gift of being a flag bearer in the procession, and I was told by the Bishop: ‘I even have an escort from Encarnación’!” Sonia Zaracho from Encarnación related.
Bishop Francisco Pistilli was greeted: “Bishop Franscisco, this is your home…” “I sealed my covenant of love here on 18 October, many years ago,” he said at the beginning of Mass, evoking his time in the Boys’ Youth of Asunción. “I came to renew it today just as another pilgrim.”
The 9:00 a.m. Mass was wonderful. The autos remained on the road, because they all did not fit in the large parking lot,” Ramón Marini, of the Family Federation commented. “The respect, the silence created a heavenly atmosphere. Just as Bishop Pistilli said: ‘Tupãrenda is the place where heaven and earth is found. It is our home, where we all have to be united as a Family. Jesus gave her as a Mother and we have to learn to be a family, to become family with the Blessed Mother and with Jesus. And to be together, united to face the challenges as a family.’ ”
He spoke of Jesus’ gaze on his Mother and his beloved disciple. That gaze said: “Son, this is your Mother, Mother, this is your son.” We are that disciple, he said, we want and we should respond to that gaze with our loyalty. Looking at the thousands of missionaries with their Pilgrim Mothers, he stressed that we are called to accompany the Blessed Mother wherever she wants to go. The first Shrine, the first Home Shrine, was St. John’s home he continued; at that house, Mary sang her Magnificat, there she told John the mystery of his life.
From her Shrine, Mary protects us so that we can go out into the world with a peaceful heart carrying Jesus’ cross so that the grace of salvation will reach everyone.
He called us to be and to live as a family: “Let us not deceive ourselves among brothers/sisters!” The Blessed Mother wants to form a family filled with mercy, a missionary family, a family that builds a common home where all of us are children: “It is possible if we have faith and we renew and live the Covenant of Love.”
“The 9:00 a.m. Mass was the best attended because it was Sunday and moreover the pilgrims from Concepción, San Pedro and Encarnación joined those always participate at this time…(For readers who are not from Paraguay, these cities are several hundred kilometers from Tupãrenda). The three parking lots were full so an empty area in the cemetery and an area behind the Shrine were also opened. There were almost no complaints. As always, the organization was impeccable.” Fr. Antonio commented.
Pilgrims continued to arrive…
As soon as the 9:00 a.m. Mass ended with the blessing of the bells and with the pilgrimage to the Shrine, new pilgrims arrived for the 11:30 a.m. Eucharist, and they continued to arrive throughout the afternoon, José Argüello sent a WhatsApp: “It was beautiful to hear Bishop Pistilli’s homily on the website! I could not go to Tupãrenda earlier because of work! I am going now!”
Bishop Joaquín Robledo, the new bishop from San Lorenzo, preached half in Spanish and half in Guaraní, as is the custom in the interior of the country, in this way all the pilgrims were reached… Just as it was done after the 9:00 Mass, there was a beautiful dance dedicated to the Blessed Mother.
Holy Mass of the Family
The Eucharist at 8:00 p.m. is traditionally the Family Mass. The pictures of the tympanum of the Church Santa María de la Trinidad, which represents the Annunciation of Mary, the Incarnate Word, were blessed. Fr. Antonio Cosp’s homily, which was interrupted several times by strong applause, was along the same line as that of Fr. Pedro Kühlcke, citing an article of Caio Scavonne, a weekly commentator of Última Hora about the subject of corruption, which has finally been uncovered, this time through the pressure of the secondary and university students.
Holy Mass ended at 10:00 p.m. with the procession of the gigantic Pilgrim Blessed Mother to the Shrine with personal blessings, singing by a tenor and fireworks.
A day of graces
A classic summary by the Director of Radio María Paraguay: “It has been a joy for us to share with the listeners this celebration of gathering the faithful from different places, and who have a great love for the Blessed Mother.”